It’s barely springtime, but that old unwelcome summer visitor, $3 gas, is headed back for a stay.
Just look at the distressing figures: the average price of regular gas in Washington hit $2.903 a gallon Friday according to AAA Washington. The price in Tacoma was even higher, $2.937 a gallon.
Prices for mid-grade and premium both topped the $3 mark statewide and in the Tacoma area. Mid-grade prices were $3.008 a gallon statewide on average and $3.042 in Tacoma. Premium was higher, $3.157 statewide and $3.194 in the Tacoma area, according to AAA.
Gas prices have risen steeply in the last month. Regular prices were up 37.9 cents from just a month ago statewide and 33.5 cents a gallon from the same time last year.
West Coast prices are leading the nation, according to experts with California gas prices are even ahead of Washington. Regular prices in the Golden State averaged $3.234 a gallon, said AAA. Premium was selling for just a fraction of a cent less than $3.50 a gallon.
Nationwide, gas prices were more moderate, but rising. Across the country, the average price for a gallon of regular hit $2.639 Friday. That’s up a little more than a quarter over a month ago.
This week was the eighth straight week that gasoline prices have risen nationwide.
Analysts blame the rising prices on shrinking supply caused by planned and unplanned refinery outages. The nation’s refineries were producing gasoline at 87 percent of capacity last week while the market was consuming gas at a 92 percent of capacity rate.
Prices still have some distance to rise before setting new records. The highest average price for gas in Washington hit a record $3.174 a gallon on May 29 last year. On the national scene, the record daily price occurred o Sept. 5, 2005 when prices hit $3.057 a gallon.